Veterans advocate pushes for inquiry into murder-suicide involving former soldier
A well-known veterans advocate is calling for an inquiry into the death of Lionel Desmond and his family.
The 33-year-old fatally shot his wife, daughter and mother before turning the gun on himself earlier this year
Former MP Peter Stoffer says the decision not to hold a judicial inquiry makes him suspicious.
“This is either a cost factor, there's money involved, or they don't want to know the truth, and they're protecting somebody," says Stoffer.
The decision not to open an inquiry was made by Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Matt Bowes. He says the major issue in the case was the provision of mental health services.
"It's my understanding that that review had been conducted. Actually, I've had information that the Nova Scotia Health Authority is setting up a meeting right now with the family to talk about recommendations," says Bowes.
Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) is a nonprofit in Halifax that aids homeless veterans and veterans in crisis. They say peer support is crucial for those leaving the military and much more could be done.
“One of the disappointments for us was the fact that we didn't have the opportunity to assist this veteran before he got to that level of crisis,” says Debbie Lowther, VETS Canada co-founder. “We’d like to see that maybe everybody who's released is assigned a peer, you know? A buddy system or something to check to make sure the buddy's doing ok."
Peter Stoffer says a judicial inquiry would shed light on the inner workings of many organizations includingthe Department of National Defence, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Nova Scotia health system, and the mental health care system.
"Was he getting all the treatment in a timely fashion? Was his family being looked after? Were there any recorded incidences that the police might have known about? What role did the hospital in Antigonish play in all of this?" questions Stoffer.
He says the only way an inquiry can be forced now is through public pressure.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw